Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Whalesharks of Donsol

With Omar Nepomuceno, our Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO)

One of the more unforgettable experiences of the kids' young lives will be the whale shark adventure we did a couple of years ago.  I had been hearing about the butandings in Donsol for some time but just never got around to planning a trip there. Then one day in the middle of summer, my take-charge and adventurous friend, Cecilia, volunteered make all the plans for the group as long as we could make ourselves free at a moment's notice. Does it get better than that? We were in.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cochinillo in Segovia


We were on the last leg of our Spain Roadtrip. From Burgos we were driving into Madrid with a stop at the city of Segovia for lunch at  Meson de Candido for their world-famous cochinillo (roast suckling pig). 


Roman aqueduct in Segovia, right beside the Meson de Candido restaurant

The Meson de Candido has a fantabulous location, right beside the still-functioning aqueduct that was built by the Romans in 50 AD.  The aqueduct was declared a world heritage site in 1985 and is considered an engineering feat because it was built without any mortar--the stones were just stacked on top of each other. Read more about the aqueduct here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Night in Burgos


On our overnight stop in Burgos, in the Castile and Leon area of Spain, we stayed at the NH Palacio de la Merced, a monastery in its previous life. The structure was built between the 16th and 17th centuries and much of the outside remains true to the original design. There's nothing medieval about the interiors though.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rodero in Pamplona

 the starter:  rosato de martini y aceituna

Our Spanish roadtrip was mostly about dining in highly-recommended restaurants. And while we all had our palates set on San Sebastian, this little detour in Pamplona was, for me, the most memorable meal of the whole trip.


Restaurante Rodero is a 40-year-old family-owned restaurant and is rated with one Michelin star.  We were a group of ten and made our reservation well in advance (not that we had to as we were traveling in the low season)  As we looked through the menu, we all agreed to go for the degustation menu--this keeps it simple for the kitchen and we also wouldn't have to deal with "can I try a bite of that" from each other.


After a small croqueta amuse bouche (which I ate quickly so no picture), we were served this very delicious duck liver with quince jelly, white truffle butter, and rhum ice shavings. For me, this was the most memorable of all the dishes.


Up next was this garden salad with king prawns and parmesan cream. I liked this one very much too.

By now we were sufficiently appetized and we were ready for the main courses.  



First, a delicately flavored white fish--a "merluza" con something--I don't remember the description, but I remember the taste very well.  (The portions, btw,  were much smaller than what they look like in these super close up shots)



And then the second main course, a rolled up cochinillo which was close to perfection. Very nice contrasting texture--tender and moist on the inside and crisp on the outside. And and unlike a lechon, this one had no fat!

It was hard to determine which of these dishes were the real highlight of the meal because they were all very good, and each of us had our favorites.


No this wasn't the salad. This was one of the simple but unique centerpieces.  

The interior design of the restaurant is neat, uncluttered, and decor is minimal. It gets a lot of natural sunlight but it's also illuminated by sharp clean halogen beams.


photos from here

This "menu para gustar" included the wines, and after a post-trip evaluation of all our meals, we looked back on this particular one as being one of the best, and the most value for the money spent.



After being served all that food, we couldn't eat anything else and we were happy to be served this light refreshing dessert.


Mojito Limon

It was almost 4 pm, and lunch was finally coming to an end.  We thanked our servers, who we then found out were the sisters of the chef, Koldo Rodero. Their mom joined us as we gathered in the foyer to say goodbye, and like all good Pinoys, we took a number of group shots.

Now we were ready to walk off the calories we just ingested, so out into the streets we went. Pamplona is the town where the bulls run through the streets during the Feast of San Fermin.



 Feast of San Fermin--Tourist season in Pamplona

We were traveling during low season and I really appreciated the close-to-empty streets. The other  bonuses of low season travel is that restaurants are easy to book and hotels are willing to discount their rates (IF you ask!).

Peace and quiet in February...

When we were choosing restaurants for this trip, friends who had done a similar trip advised us to book degustation meals only at lunch time and not for dinner. Firstly, dinner in Spain starts at 9 pm.  Imagine sitting for a couple of hours going through all these courses and then getting to bed with a full stomach. We were well advised. We saved all our gastronomic meals for lunch which starts at around 1:30 pm, and mostly did tapas or pintxos for dinner.


We left Pamplona at dusk and headed towards San Sebastian which was only 70 kilometers north, approximately an hour away.  More eating lay ahead in San Sebastian, but after this Rodero meal, we couldn't think of having another bite of anything else. At least not for another couple of hours.


Rodero Restaurante
C/ Emilio Arrieta 3
31002 Pamplona Navarra
www.restauranterodero.com


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